The Centre on Monday for the first time expressed security concerns around Huawei’s technology. The Chinese telecom equipment firm has been engaged in a bitter row with the US government for banning its products.

Ravi Shankar Prasad, who took charge as IT and Telecom Minister on Monday, said the government will take a view on whether Huawei will be allowed to participate in 5G trials. “There are security issues…it is not only a matter of technology, where their participation in 5G is concerned,” he said.

“Participation of 5G is not conditional upon the trial being started. Whether a particular company is allowed to participate or not is a complex question including security issues,” he added. Last month, the government had constituted a committee, headed by the Principal Scientific Advisor, to decide on the fate of Huawei’s participation in the 5G trial.

Chinese intelligence law

“China has passed a National Intelligence Law (in October 2017) which mandates that they can ask any of their companies to provide any kind of data — either onshore or offshore,” a senior government official told BusinessLine . “Tomorrow, if Huawei supplies a network and collects some data, it will be forced to share the data with the Chinese government. We will have to take into account these nuances.”

Indo-China relations

The official said the government also has to factor in India’s relationship with China, which is geopolitically and strategically sensitive. “Given the kind of neighbourhood we are in, we have to be a little more careful than other countries,” the official added.

“We have to do our due diligence before we allow them in. Can we firewall them? What kind of assurances can we receive from them? Can we make them equally dependent on us in some way? These issues have to be looked at. It’s an issue on which India needs to be really careful,” the official further said, adding that technologies such as 5G are more vulnerable to security threats because of their use in the Internet of Things (IoT).

The security concerns around Chinese equipment rose globally after US President Donald Trump’s successive attacks on Huawei, urging allies to boycott its products and blacklisting the Chinese firm from buying some US software.

Last month, the Trump administration placed Huawei and its affiliates on blacklist, banning the company from purchasing parts and components from American firms without its approval. Later, though, it had to relax some of the restrictions to reduce disruption for users in the US.